Opening Comments: This post like most others started out as a post for the social media sites, but as soon as the caption lengthened I saw what I wrote and I figured that it probably belonged in the blog. This like many previous and future posts forms part of me trying my hand at writing. Despite most of it being in English I will try to write in IsiZulu and hopefully can offer accurate translations for all such IsiZulu pieces. I saw this as an opportunity to discuss one of the topics which are very close to my heart. Which is the thanksgiving I wish to extend to the environment and the humans (both living and dead) who each played their roles in their own unique way. All of their roleplaying then resulted in a turn of events that all came together to ensure my very existence.
To align with the theme of the post, I wanted to choose a picture that showed some of the talking points that will be addressed in the post. A picture that does not stare directly at the observer (through my eyes). As I see this as giving any observer a chance to examine or look for what they wish to see or know about me. The unclarity of where my eyes are looking is a constant testament about me, in that I am never fully situated at any one moment. But I am in past, present, future, possible or fictional moments that can take place. The picture I chose to use in this post is a part of a series of selfies (self-portraits) taken just after midnight on the 1st of May 2017. Which was also the birth of this post.
“With hair as black as the coals mined in the depths of the Mpumalanga terrain. Its territory extending from the top of my forehead, until it just terminates at the top of the back of my neck. Only for it to try and fail to cascade further down my back. Meanwhile defying the 9.8 m/s pull which keeps us firmly rooted to the Sphere.
I was covered in skin as brown as the sands that cover this continent. Inside of this skin I hold multiple volumes of information that came together and eventually formed the vessel and the being that is ME. Its surface area is as wide, vast and seemingly unbounded as the Sahara Desert. The Desert with extremities extending from the cold coast of Western Mauritania until the south-eastern coast of Eritrea, from the far reaches of central Tunisia to low rungs of central Chad. The arid sand moves undisturbed until it meets with the semi-arid terrain of the Sahel, and the lush greenery of West, Central and East Africa. Bounded at the top by the Mediterranean vegetation of northern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
I received adornment with this full, rounded nose perched on my face, which marks my genealogy. Serving as a memorial monument to those that walked this red, scorched earth before me. I believe it was an orator by the name of Gift Mudzingwa who referred to a “Black Badge of Africa”. An identifier, the umbilical cord which tethers and nourishes us to this common thirst-quenching oasis of “AFRIKA”. The “AFRIKA” that countless gifted speakers and poets have been lamenting about since the pen was put into paper. So many like me now only contend with words that have been left behind which are cryptic and figurative, all without the writers and speakers who crafted them. Their absence in our lives is beyond our control, as they underwent a process still oncoming for many of us: DEATH. Despite facing the perpetual fact that the knowledge we as the young ones choose to ignore because of a myriad of reasons, dies with our elders. Wangari Maathai, Chinua Achebe, Lilian Ngoyi and Patrice Lumumba are long gone with all the knowledge they carried. All that they left behind was the informative and necessary words they wrote to us. The dilemma I have though with this “Badge” is that I cannot outrightly tell whether most of it comes from my mother or my father.
By endowment this wild tongue was gifted to me, and through the progression of time it was forced, moulded and forged into articulating the same sounds, intonations and chants that were evoked by the veterans of Cetshwayo’s Isandlwana (AmaZulu). I had no comprehension of the effervescent passion and enthusiasm that this process would ignite within the brazier (imbawula) I hold in my ribcage. This passion which was bestowed upon me through the collaborative kindling of the Northerners of the Great Lake of Malawi (BaTumbuka). The “Angry Ones” who were so named by our nomadic siblings who shared with us their ways of the clicking tongue (AmaXhosa). And finally the loyalists of the tame but sharp tongue who still live under the last absolute monarch of the “Woman in a Headwrap” (AmaSwati).
To all that existed in order for me to be, to all that did not exist in order for me to be. I do give thanks, and I am humbled by the sheer might of things beyond the scope of my human reasoning. The things which happened and did not happen, but which deemed it suitable and fitting that the maturation in the Great Forge occur. To the point that the glorious process which took place in the early hours of an August morning transpired. Isitshalo saqala ukuhluma enyangeni kaNcwaba. (The plant started to blossom in the month of August)”.
“Just like uMkhul’ uStephen Bantu Biko I will write what I like, you may not like what I write. I will still write nonetheless, because by doing so I will be passing on his message to generations that will come after me. Who will also write what they like, so much so that in the grand scheme of things we will not have other people telling our stories in their distorted narratives. We will own our stories.” – Sthembiso TTV Ngwekazi.